Sports Massage Therapy

Can Deep Tissue Massage Cause Muscle Spasms?

Breeze Academy November 21, 2023
deep tissue massage on woman's back

Following exercise, a large number of people experience ‘muscle spasms’, which describes the involuntary contraction of muscles that can cause people pain and discomfort. There are a wide variety of causes for muscle spasms, and they are often caused by a lack of effective stretching before exercise and dehydration causing muscles to become fatigued. Deep tissue massage is sometimes used to treat such concerns, but can it also cause muscle spasms?

Muscle spasms should be reduced following a deep tissue massage as it forces blood into muscles that are fatigued, encouraging the supply of nutrients and removal of toxins. While this may temporarily cause mild inflammation, muscle spasms should be reduced as a result.

Read on to find out more about what causes muscle spasms, and how a deep tissue massage can help to combat them.

Can Massage Cause Muscle Spasms?

Typically, massage helps to relieve tight muscles and can be particularly beneficial for those that experience muscle spasms. Deep tissue massage is thought to reduce muscle spasms by relieving the build-up of tension. The massage stretches, loosens and relaxes the muscles.

This will naturally relieve any pain and discomfort associated with muscle spasms, but regular massages should also help people to keep on top of muscle tension, therefore helping to reduce the chance of spasms happening.

However, it isn't uncommon to experience minor muscle spasms or twitches after an appointment. This could be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Stimulation of Nerves - When pressure is applied to the muscles, this can sometimes irritate the nerves, leading to spasms or twitching.
  • Increased Blood Flow - Increased blood flow causes the muscles to contract as they receive more oxygen and nutrients. This can cause temporary spasms.
  • Muscle Fatigue - More aggressive massages, such as a deep tissue massage, can fatigue the muscles which may spasm or twitch as they recover. 
  • Release of Tension - As the muscles relax after releasing tension, they may exhibit spontaneous contractions - spasms.

These spasms after a massage are normal, harmless and are usually temporary. You can minimise the risk of spasms occurring after a massage by openly communicating with your Massage Therapist and informing them about any pain or discomfort during the session so that adjustments can be made. Additionally, staying well-hydrated before and after the massage can be incredibly beneficial. 

However, if they are a regular occurrence, are more severe in nature, or are accompanied by other symptoms, we recommend consulting your Doctor. Likewise,  if you have specific health concerns, we recommend consulting with your doctor before getting a deep tissue massage. They can provide guidance based on your individual health status and advise on alternative treatments if deep tissue massage is not suitable.

Can You Massage a Muscle Spasm?

Massage is a common way to treat a muscle spasm in action. Self-massage techniques can be used to instantly relieve a spasm. Stretch and gently rub the spasming muscle until it begins to relax. Use of a  foam roller is a great alternative. 

Other Ways to Treat Muscle Spasms 

While deep tissue massage, and even self-massage, are great ways of treating muscle spasms, there are alternatives for those that can’t have deep tissue massage, or those whose condition does not respond to the treatment. 

These include:

  1. Stretching

  2. Using ice or heat

  3. Hydration

  4. Light exercise

  5. Non-prescription remedies

  6. Emollient gel

  7. Prescription muscle relaxant

How Often Should You Have a Deep Tissue Massage?

It is recommended to have a deep tissue massage once per week, or at least once every other week to maximise its effectiveness. This is particularly important for those that suffer from muscle spasms as regular massage will be required to keep muscle tension at bay. 

Between appointments, it is recommended that self-massage techniques are used to maintain benefits and keep the muscles loose. Light exercise, stretching and even Yoga would additionally help to reduce the build of tension in the muscles.

Final Thoughts

Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions of muscles, often caused by muscle fatigue and dehydration. They can also be caused by deep tissue massage, however, this will usually be mild, temporary and resolve itself. 

That being said, for those that suffer from muscle spasms regularly, deep tissue massage can reduce the occurrence of spasms by relieving tension in the muscles, increasing blood flow and improving flexibility. 

If you are interested in learning more about deep tissue massage and the benefits it can have for clients' musculoskeletal conditions, such as muscle spasms, take a look at our Massage Therapy courses today. We offer both beginner or more advanced courses across the country that provide you with everything you need to practise safely and effectively.


What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal issues. This method of massage helps to stretch, loosen and relax the muscle, relieving tension and consequently reducing impact of certain muscular issues including muscle spasms. 

This is achieved by using the following techniques:

  • Kneading - applying firm pressure to pull and squeeze muscles
  • Effleurage - employing long and directional strokes to help increase the flow of blood
  • Trigger pointing - using firm pressure on specific areas known as ‘trigger points’ to increase the range of movement for muscles

Learn more about deep tissue massage in our detailed blog, What is the Difference Between Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?

What Causes Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms, also known as ‘muscle twitch’, are involuntary muscle contractions that can sometimes induce pain. It is very unlikely that a deep tissue would cause muscle spasms. If you are experiencing painful or repeated muscle spasms, consider contacting a specialist.

Primarily caused by muscle fatigue, it is thought that muscle spasms can occur due to muscle dehydration, poor circulation, a lack of effective stretching prior to exercise, exercise performed in heat, and over-exerting a muscle during exercise.

What are the Effects of a Deep Tissue Massage?

Following a deep tissue massage, it is normal to experience a degree of soreness or muscle tightness. It is also likely that muscle inflammation will occur due to increased circulation. However, it is important to remember that a massage does not have to hurt to be effective. 

Following a massage, muscles should also feel looser, and symptoms of muscle fatigue, including muscle spasms, should be reduced. Other benefits of deep tissue massage include reduced pain, better range of motion, and improved mental health.

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